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KAUST and SABB announce winners of TAQADAM startup accelerator program
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 11 - 03 - 2021

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and partner Saudi British Bank (SABB) today announced the winners of the TAQADAM startup accelerator program.
Seventy-six founders from 37 startups, 45 percent of whom are women, competed for a prize pool of over SR 4 million in zero-equity funding during a virtual event held on March 10.
Judges selected 10 winners to receive a prize valued at SR 375,000 each. In addition, an audience of over 4,200 virtual attendees voted on a People's Choice award winner for a prize valued at SR 375,000.
"The graduates of the 2020 TAQADAM startup accelerator did an amazing job," said Dr. Kevin Cullen, vice president of Innovation and Economic Development at KAUST.
"Eleven startups were selected to receive additional funding, but all 37 are winners. Our Saudi entrepreneurship ecosystem is developing at an incredible rate and the quality presented on March 10 was outstanding. We couldn't be prouder of all of them."
The 2020 TAQADAM startup accelerator cohort included startups from diverse industries; including eCommerce, HealthTech, EdTech and FinTech.
Through three-minute pitches, the graduates presented virtually to a network of top-tier local and international investors and judges. The 11 winning startups are:
• AlGooru: Mobile education platform that matches students with qualified tutors.
• Jaleesa: App connecting parents with certified babysitters.
• Logexa: On-demand warehousing service for small businesses.
• Polymeron: Biodegradable and sustainable materials manufacturer.
• Raed: Educational storytelling app for primary school children.
• Themar: Peer-to-peer, Shariah compliant online financing marketplace.
• Udawi: Free online service connecting patients with health care providers.
• Uvera: Compact, portable device to extend vegetable and produce shelf life.
• Wethaq: Financial technology platform for securities management.
• White Helmet: Remote construction project management platform.
• People's Choice Award Winner: Tmyyoz, an online education platform for standardized test preparation.
The six-month-long TAQADAM startup accelerator program, which is based in Saudi Arabia at KAUST and sponsored by SABB, aims to develop early-stage entrepreneurs and their concepts into new, high-potential startups.
The competition was fierce for the 2020 cohort, as only 59 of the 561 startups that applied were accepted. Selected teams received SR150,000 in zero-equity grant funding. Startups use these funds to accelerate operations, grow their business and expand their teams.
Following an exceptionally successful cohort, the door is now open for applicants to the 2021 TAQADAM startup accelerator cohort, with applications closing on April 10, 2021. Startups interested in participating are encouraged to apply here [https://taqadam.kaust.edu.sa/]. Founders based outside of Saudi Arabia are welcome to apply.
Accepted startups will receive SR150,000 of zero-equity funding to grow their business, be paired with expert mentors, participate in training programs and workshops to guide them in growing their business, and become part of Saudi Arabia's leading community of startups. Participating teams will also be given access to co-working and lab facilities.
In 2016, KAUST and SABB partnered to launch the first TAQADAM startup accelerator program as a way to support entrepreneurs in taking the first leap toward founding a startup. The accelerator has now graduated 126 startups and granted over SR16 million in zero-equity grant funding. — SG


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